For Immediate Release
September 9, 2004
Contact: Doug Dunbar
Maine College and University Presidents
Announce Support for Voter Registration &
Civic Participation During Ceremony
BANGOR, MAINE – Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky was joined by University of Maine System Chancellor Joseph W. Westphal and higher education officials from throughout Maine for a special signing ceremony on Thursday to pledge their support for voter education and registration initiatives, and to highlight efforts being made this fall to encourage student civic participation. The ceremony, which was the first of its kind in Maine, was organized by the Secretary of State and hosted by Chancellor Westphal at the University of Maine System offices in Bangor.
Participants included University of Maine President Robert Kennedy, University of Southern Maine President Richard Pattenaude, University of Maine at Augusta President Charles Lyons, University of Maine at Farmington President Theodora Kalikow, University of Maine at Fort Kent President Richard Cost, University of Maine at Machias President Sue Huseman, University of Maine at Presque Isle President William Shields, Eastern Maine Community College President Joyce Hedlund, Northern Maine Community College Dean of Students William Egeler, and Maine Maritime Academy Commandant of Midshipmen Captain Jeff Loustaunau.
“The Secretary of State’s office is pleased to partner with the New Voters Project, Maine Campus Compact and higher education institutions across the state to implement the most comprehensive voter outreach initiative in Maine ’s history,” Secretary Gwadosky commented.
In July, the Secretary of State’s office launched Maine’s Promote the Vote initiative and kicked-off a 100-Day Countdown to the November General Election. An important part of Promote the Vote is a coordinated effort to energize, inform and involve more young people (ages 18-24) than ever before.
“We want Maine to be number one in the nation for overall voter participation and turnout among our youngest voters—not simply for the sake of bragging rights, but because voting is fundamentally important. When people become informed and engaged, and ultimately vote, our system of government is strengthened. When individuals care enough to learn about issues and to take part in the electoral process, our communities, state and nation benefit,” Gwadosky added.
The higher education officials participating in Thursday’s ceremony emphasized the importance of civic participation and noted that education plays a key role in helping people to become informed and engaged. They highlighted projects being planned on their campuses--including debates, speeches and a variety of voter registration drives--to enhance awareness and encourage involvement.
As part of this Promote the Vote initiative, the Secretary of State’s office—in cooperation with the New Voters Project and Maine Campus Compact—is providing voter registration applications, Voting Guides and Absentee Balloting Brochures, as well as best practices information and other resources to all Maine colleges and universities.
A copy of the pledge signed today follows on the next page. It was previously signed by officials at Bowdoin College, Central Maine Community College, Kennebec Valley Community College, the University of New England, Andover College, New England School of Communications, and the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College.
State of Maine College and University
Voter Registration Pledge
We, the college and university officials listed below,
recognize the responsibility our administrations have in
encouraging civic participation and leadership among
students at Maine’s higher education institutions.
We pledge to take an active role in developing institutional
strategies to engage young people in the political process,
and will do our part to provide voter education and
registration services to students.
Signed this Ninth Day of September, 2004